We check out the ‘new kid on the block’ who is set to become a great British success.
With 23 years of experience in waterproof design, it took me three years to use all my knowledge and experience to create and build the Dannah Alpine Jacket.
It can be done and there is room in the very crowded outdoor market for a new, niche brand. Especially if the message is a ‘responsibly sourced’ one. Enter a new British brand – Dannah, started by Richard Dannah who has 23 years of experience in outdoor gear design and a passion for designing the perfect garments that perform in all conditions.
The Dannah Alpine Jacket is the flagship product of the range which includes the Alpine Pant and Merino base layers. The jacket has been well designed and has performed well throughout the test period. The features are well throughout and the Porelle fabric has performed well in all the conditions I have put it through.
I’ll spend a few word on Porelle as a fabric. I first came across it a pair of North Cape (do you remember them?) gloves, I then discovered it was the waterproof membrane in Sealskinz socks (Sealskinz now use a different membrane and DexShell make a waterproof sock using Porelle) and since then I haven’t anything about the fabric until Dannah sent us the Alpine jacket. I was very surprised to find out that Porelle is a Norfolk based British made waterproof fabric with a global reach. The company has come a long way since my North Cape gloves.
If I’m absolutely honest, within the last few years and having tested a variety of waterproof fabrics I couldn’t say something performed any better than another, whether it’s been eVent, Gore-Tex Pro, Polartec Neoshell or sometimes a manufacturers propriety fabric. However, it’s more about how the fabric performs over time and this is where a fabric can really make its mark. The ability to maintain a fabric and keep it waterproof over a long lifetime of use is what marks a fabric out as outstanding. Now I haven’t used the Dannah Alpine Jacket for long enough to comment fully on this but the fabric has performed as well as any other I have tested. The fact that the Porelle fabric is manufactured in the UK, is per fluorocarbon free and is manufactured using sustainable energy sources are all plus points for me.
OK, enough of the fabric what about the features? The Alpine jacket has an alpine cut, which is athletic. The cut works best when wearing a base layer and a medium weight mid layer. I found the jacket too well cut to feel full freedom of movement when wearing a lofted insulation layer or thick fleece. With the system I described it did work very well and I felt I had full freedom of movement when climbing and hiking.
The fabric is 3 layered Porelle Dry. A lot is said about the Porelle membrane being dry in active situations and although it has felt nice and warm in rain and sleet, I still arrived at the base of a route damp when I wore it in for an approach (to be fair I have never yet come across a hardshell that can breathe enough mouisture out on a steep approach). The generous pit zips did help a lot on steep ground and they were easy to use with glove friendly zip pulls. The fabric also has a nice soft feel to it and felt comfortable for all day wear (which I often am when I’m working) and was compressible so took up little space in my pack. All in all I have been impressed with the Porelle Dry fabric, it is easily as good as anything else out there on the market and the fact that the membrane is British made is a big plus for us here at CGR.
The exterior is finished with two handwarmer pockets that are ‘A lined’, that is they have a slight angle to them. They are at a nice harness friendly height and the YKK Aquacoil zips kept out the worst of the rain. Richard has even designed the curved zip pulls himself and they work extremely well with or without gloves on. I would have preferred the pockets to have been placed slightly more forward on the jacket than they are. The main use of the pockets for me is as wind breaks for my hands when hiking and approaching and I found the pockets slightly too set back for my liking, but then if you’ve been plagued with a negative ape index all your climbing life it’s no surprise that you’re anthropometrically challenged! The pockets should work out fine is you are neutral or lucky enough to be positive and are easily big enough to stuff gloves, food, hats and even a map into.
The inside of the Dannah Alpine jacket has 2 zip secured interior pockets that are big enough for phones, gps and compass. I think that having one secured pocket and a larger mesh stuff pocket would be better as it would be good to have large pocket for putting climbing gloves in on the belay. The taped seams are well laminated and are showing no signs of peeling. There is also a nice classy looking Dannah label. Another nice touch is the extended Velcro on the sleeve ends so the adjuster tab is always well locked into place.
Much is made of the hood on the Dannah Alpine Jacket which was designed using 3D mannequins. We here at CGR are mostly interested in how helmet compatible the hood is and if there are any restrictions to looking upwards when the hood is deployed. Remember the hood can be used when it is windy as well as raining so I use a hood quite a lot. I loved the peak on the hood and that deserves 5 stars. It is also very easy to adjust with the two adjuster loops on the back – nothing else, just those. Nice and sweet.
Dannah decided not to go with the tried and tested wired peak but to use a high density plastic insert. This is tested to -30°C and whatever I did it always returned to its original shape. The hood fitted over my Petzl Meteor helmet perfectly and the way the peak is designed it sat under the front of the helmet and never moved off it. I didn’t have perfect visibility when looking upwards or 180° left to right, but the hood is the best designed hood I have come across for a long time.
So in conclusion the Dannah Alpine Jacket is a great jacket by a relative newcomer. It is superbly desgned with a lot of thought going into it. The sustainable ethic is to be commended and supported and the use of a Britsh and again, sustainable membrane always goes down well with us. If you are looking for a well desgned, all round outdoor hardshell at a reasonable price then the Alpine Jacket is worth a look.
The Dannah Alpine Jacket comes in sizes XS-XXL for Men and sizes 8 to 16 for Women. It comes in 2 colour options Black and Red.
Available from the Dannah website.